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Op-Ed: Coopersburg Council, Leave Meadow Park Alone

A Coopersburg resident shares her thoughts on the proposed Meadow Park project

We’ve lived on Thomas Street    I remember when we first looked at the property and asked our realtor about this open land next to us, we were assured that nothing would ever be built there.  How is that possible?  Apparently, the Cooper family had deeded the land to the borough with the intention of keeping it as “open land”.   That’s exactly what we wanted to hear.  We bought the property and have enjoyed the serenity of “meadow park”.   It was peaceful and beautiful with the creek running through it. 

That would change, though.  In 2004, the borough received a grant as part of a stream restoration project.  I remember being told it was to save the banks of the creek from erosion during heavy rains.    So along the banks of the creek, restoration begun and wildflowers were planted.  There also was a patch of grass about 30 x 40 feet wide that was designated “wetlands” and the same flowers were planted there.    Eight years later, the area is more weeds than flowers.   And the creek still overflows and floods the area.

(Join the conversation! Email Op-eds to editor Elizabeth Rich at Elizabeth.Rich@patch.com)

This brings me to the current situation.   It came to our attention that there is another project planned for the meadow.   A bidder for the project told us it was for a walking path and picnic area.   Apparently, in 2007, the borough applied for and received a grant in the amount of $47,000 from the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources for improvements to Meadow Park.    However, the first time we are hearing about this is June 2012.  For five years, plans have been in the making, and no one within the immediate vicinity of the meadow was informed by the borough.       

As concerned citizens, directly affected by this potential project, we went to the next Borough Council meeting and were told that a walking path and picnic tables were to be constructed on the very site that was supposed to be “open land”.  A walking path?  Surely, everyone in town can walk on the sidewalks that make up a typical borough.    Since we had many more questions, we were invited to a special workshop to review the plans and have our questions answered.   

 Much to our surprise, this walking path will be built in an area that notoriously floods during heavy rains.  Not only from the creek, but a large storm drain pipe that is pumping water out from the runoff of Thomas & 5th Street.   The walking path will be 5 feet wide and made of macadam.  It will run the length of the meadow looping around the “patch of wildflowers” (now weeds) and back to the starting point at Charles Street.    It may not be your typical “building”, but this is, in my opinion, construction in an area that, not only floods, but was not to be built on in the first place.   The picnic tables are slated to be built on the other side of the creek, next to the small playground that was erected a short time before the creek project.  Another area of land that neighbors were told was never to be built on. 

What will happen when the area floods, the hot summers, and cold winters that will inevitably damage the macadam?  Who will maintain that area?  Who will make sure there are no loiterers?  Who will clean up the trash?  And more importantly, who will pay for all this maintenance and upkeep?    

After a little investigating of my own, I also discovered that this particular grant requires a match of funds by the Borough.  How much is the match? Where will they come up with that money?   Aren’t they already out $15,000?    Well, the match of funds will ultimately come from the citizens of Coopersburg.   I am one citizen that does not want that to happen.  

Therese Loew

Center Valley Citizen July 17, 2012 at 03:46 PM
Sounds to me this is an improvement to the community, which you are selfishly against because of your own interest in keeping the meadow vacant.
Gramma24 July 17, 2012 at 06:20 PM
Ah geez, another party who, although they don't own the property, have declared 'eminent domain' and expect everyone else to follow their directive on 'what should be done with MY land'.....yeah, it floods, so do other low lying areas, but the walk way and probably the picnic tables will not float way and end up in your back yard, oops, wait, the 'meadow' IS your back yard. This is just a way to keep 'them' off of 'my' property, as after all, if you build it 'they' will come and I don't have 'vetting' over who 'they' are. A number of years ago, I seem to remember another dust up over this property....an Eagle Scout wanted to do a project and a 'neighbor' bordering this area, gave 'permission' for work to be done on 'their' property....it wasn't the op-ed writer. Maybe the township/borough should do what needs doing and let the neighbors fight over who it 'really' belongs to. Hey, I've got an idea.......if it's been private property all along, why doesn't the township charge these people with it's upkeep? A little cha-ching in the borough coffers.
Cooper July 17, 2012 at 06:46 PM
Hey Gramma, I guess you have no real knowledge of the history of the meadow and how the Borough acquired it. Open land means, open land. End of Story.
Cooper July 17, 2012 at 07:20 PM
There are about 20 residents that live in the vicinity of this meadow that are opposed to this project. Seems to me that "Center Valley" is a long way from Meadow Park.
Center Valley Citizen July 17, 2012 at 07:25 PM
Cooper - the bottom line is, if Coopersburg owns the property, it is theirs to do what they'd like with it. And for your information, Center Valley is a mere 2 minute drive from Coopersburg - not really that far at all. Upper Saucon encompasses both areas, and therefore, Coopersburg's community concerns are shared by residents of Center Valley, and vice versa.
Notbornyesterday July 19, 2012 at 12:35 PM
Too bad the walking trail won't be built. I think Coopersburg could have used a small pocket park on the West side of 309. I sympathize with the writer but agree with the posters that just because a Realtor said a piece of land would never be developed, does not make it true. When the Cooper family gave the land to the borough, they may not have thought about a park, but a walking path and a picnic area is far from being developed and it would serve many more people then the few whose property borders the land. Too bad the council members caved to those residents. I wonder if the DCNR was at the meeting to address the flooding issues and use of the park.
Hannah Poole July 19, 2012 at 03:27 PM
I don't believe council members 'caved in' - basicially a financial matter as it would still take a lot of $$ from the borough which should be used on more pressing issues. I was of the same opinion as T.Loew, however; boro has plenty of sidewalks to walk on , & one can always walk on the grass, if so inclined (won't scrape your knees on it either) -& trying to maintain an area that floods a lot is difficult - I would think picnic tables by the playground on 4th st. would be logical - parents could sit & watch their kids play!
Gramma24 July 21, 2012 at 04:23 PM
Ohhhhhh, Cooper, I guess I have been 'schooled' haven't I? Park and walking trails do not compromise 'open land'......but then I guess, not being a 'neighbor' to this property, I have no say on how the borough misappropriates federal money given to it to make this park. What are they gonna do with the $47k the DRNC gave them to facilitate this park? They've already spent around $23K of the money? Those 'concerned neighbors' gonna pony that amount up to repay the government? Or do they plan on declaring themselves seccessionists from the government and refuse to do anything with their outstanding debt. The main complaint is that the property is owned by the borough, the tax base is paying for upkeep, and certain number of people want it kept 'as is' for their own personal use.
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